Thursday, 24 January 2013

Joseph Chamberlain - Printmaker

Not, Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914) the father of "Peace in our time" Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940) but obscure minor artist printmaker working in the 1920's and 30's.

... and here is a example of one his "multiples" - Yes, multiple, a new term to you, but for reason I will explain later, a good description.

This "moonlit meeting" is very atmospheric, the silhouette foreground with the moonlight beyond just adds to the intrigue - lover meeting whilst walking the dog.

Information on the artist is scarce, we know from entries in art indexes that he was born in Lambourne, Wiltshire and studied art at Heatherley's Art School from c1925. But no life dates or family history.

He is recorded as living in London c1925 and subsequently in Marlborough, Wiltshire from 1926. He is recorded at exhibiting regularly in the 1920’s, including once at the Royal Academy and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.

When researched this artist a few years ago, before my blogging started, I did find a few more references to him and his work. At the time I found the he was predominately a landscape painter and mezzotint artist and the only listed sale at auction was a mezzotint titled "Portrait of Mrs Francis Bernoch of the Blackheath" (unsold). This was probably a copy of oil painting.

The same design with a different colour/background combination

More of interest to me is that he also created many multiples using the pochoir technique on satin material. Similar in style and technique to Thomas Todd Blaylock (1876-1929) as you can see from the picture on the right. All these pictures are created by hand painting the colour through a series of stencils on to, with these artists, fabric to build up a woodblock looking picture - not a real printing method, but a series of multiple images.

Blaylock's pictures are quite sophisticated,  using several stencils to build up the shadows and depth. Whilst Chamberlain appears to us a single template, hand painting the varying tones needed. This technique allowed the artist to vary the colours and fabric to make unique images from a single template.

This technique was also used by Hugh Wallis (1871-1944) with his "paper cuts" - see my earlier post for examples, although he painted them on to various type of papers often try to imitate marquetry.

This picture was always my favourite, the most interesting image, lot more atomspheric than the quite soul less floral still life compositions which try to emulate those of John Hall Thorpe (1874-1947) or Blaylock. They are just a little too flat ! - charmingly naive and they did look good all framed up.

I particularly like the way he has used the black unpainted  satin as the shadows of the members of the band from the single point of light.

He usually signed he pictures with full signature either within image or in pencil on original mounts.

After another quick google search - I found
reference to a "J Chamberlain" signed mezzotint titled as "River landscape with anglers in olden times" not selling at auction. This picture was dated 1956, at least can extend his active period to c1925 to 1950's

Finally - a picture of one of his mezzotints. A still life study after Jan Van HUYSAM (Dutch 1682 - 1749). This is a still life with a decorative vase of garden flowers and birds nest on a marble ledge within an ornamental garden. Published 1947 by Frost & Reed Ltd.

This is for sale at The Gillies Gallery with a price of £120.00
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